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tv   Nightline  ABC  July 21, 2009 11:35pm-12:05am EDT

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tonight on "nightline," a daughter's devotion. as the eldest child of murdered bud and melanie billings speaks out about her plan to care for her nine needy and parentless siblings, new tails about the brutal crime emerge. is this man the sole shooter? into the wild, join us on a journey to one of the world's far away places. the rain forest's home to the rare lemur. they're cute and cuddly, but are the animals doomed? plus, grow your hair, go to sleep, even enjoy peak performance in the bedroom and now a pill that will make you lose weight. why pill popping by e handful is tonight's "sign of the times".
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captions paid for by abc, inc. good evening. we begin tonight with a startling new accusation in the bud and melanie billings murder case. connection with the killing has named the ring leader. according to court documents released today he told police that one man organized the deadly home invasion and that same individual murdered the couple inside their florida bedroom. meanwhile, the billings' eldest daughter is speaking out about their lifetime of service and her plan to care for the nine disabled siblingwho are now wiouthrepants. as jeffrey kofman now reports. >> 12 days after the brutal
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murders of bud and melanie billing, police believe they know who did it. they have seven suspects in custody and in court documents released tu one of the suspects alleges that there was a loan shooter, leonard patrick gonzalez, jr. he has maintained his innocence. but it's still not clear why. why did the perpetrator spend 30 days planning a lightning fast home invasion that left two parents dead and nine severely disabled children orphans? >> hello. >> ashley markham can't answer these questions either, but as the eldest daughter of the billings she met with us at the home of her lawyer to talk about the future and what happened to her parents. >> it has been very overwhelming. i don't think i have had my personal time. there's a lot more to worry about right now than stopping and grieving. >> you haven't had a chance yet? >> i really haven't. i have to keep going for the children. >> and there are a lot of them.
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bud and melanie billings had a staggering 17 children. all but four adopted. the nine still living at home have down syndrome, autism and fetal alcohol syndrome. what motivates a couple to adopt many children with such challenging needs? >> i believe their motivation came from giving these children a better life. they found these children to be perfect. >> what was it like seeing your mom day to day dealing with these children? >> there weren't moments where she fell apart or ever thought she couldn't do it. it was, you know, i'm going to do it if nobody wants to help me, i'll do it by myself. she loved children. that's all she wanted do, was be a mommiment she had more patience than i could ever dream of having. >> we got a fuller picture from ashley's best friend, natalie
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gains who sat with her through the interview. they have known each other since high school. natalie was there as miss melanie and mr. bud adopted more and more disabled children. >> a love and compassion that they showed for those children was just extraordinary. >> did you ever ask yourself why would they do this on this scale so many children with so much need? >> yes. but i didn't fully realize like how generous and how wonderful they were and why they were doing this until in 2004 i had my own son with special needs. and ms. melanie was one of first people to tell me and tell me this little boy is going to be the love of your life. she has been my mentor and the fact that she can do it on a scale with nine is unbelievable. >> with the billings murdered there are nine bewildered
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children in need of constant care. ashley had talked to her mother about what she wanted to see happen if she died. >> the main focus was to keep the children together. >> who was to take care of them. >> me. >> she said that to you? >> yes. >> did you say yes? >> yes. >> she and her husband plan to move into the sprawling home to take care of the childo ren. right now, friends and neighbors are repairing and repainting what was a bloody crime scene. ashley is just 26 years old. it is clear she will need her mother's determination and her patience. has it hit you what is ahead? >> it's definitely starting to sink in. children waking up at midnight and don't want go back to sleep until 6:00 a.m. is not a schele i'm used to. >> do you want this? >> more than anything. it's the number one way i can
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honor my parents and if i have to do it by myself, i'll do it by myself. >> until this week, ashley was running the used car dealership her father started and a car finance company. but billings also intoed a strip club that he sold years ago that has helped fuel rumor and speculation that he was involved in something unsavory that made him a target. what has it been like to hear these things said about your parents? >> there's not much anybody could say that would break down an perception i have of them. i know who they were. >> can i throw some of them at you and just let you dismiss them? is that okay? >> sure. >> drugs. >> my parents didn't even drink. i would never, never think that drugs would ever be involved. >> money laundering? >> i mean, it's public record. you know, if there were probl s problems, government would have stepped in, i believe. >> there's this idea floating
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out there that your father had somehow done something to provoke this, that he was the target here, not money or >> i just believe that everybody has enemies. i don't think anything could provoke this. i think that it doesn't matter what somebody does, they don't deserve something like this. >> bud and melanie billings were buried last friday. the motive behind the murders remains unclear. a safe taken by the perpetrators was recovered with nothing of value inside. suspect in the alleged master gonzalez has claimed that bud gave money to a martial arts charity he ran, but ashl has found no record of any business dealings between the two. do you know why this has happened? >> no. i can't even fathom a reas why something like this would
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happen. i -- i've questioned everything. i don't know how there are people in the world that have that mgnitude of hate in their lives. especially to people who had nothing but goodness. >> do you feel the need to know why your parents were killed? >> i need to know. i'm -- there's parts of it i want to know and there are parts that i don't ever need to know. but why. why somebody would do this to these children. and to know that the children were there. and to put these children through this for the rest of their lives, i need to know why somebody dildthat. >> ashley markham and her husband anthe ne children are expected to move back into the family home at the end of
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the month. for "nightline" i'm jeffrey kofman. >> authorities continue to interview additional persons of interest and they expect to make another arrest in the days to come. our thanks to jeffrey kofman. when we come back, we go into the wild to an island naon unlike anywhere else on the earth to meet an animal with a big personality facing a very serious threat. gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg two medium cappuccinos, you're ready for the mid-morning rush thanks to a good breakfast. one coffee with room, one large mocha latte. medium macchiato, light hot chocolate hold the whip, and two espressos. make one a double. she's fiber focused! i have two cappuccinos, one coffee with room, one large mocha latte, a medium macchiato, a light hot chocolate, hold the whip, and two espressos, one with a double shot. gonna take more than coffee to stay this focused. stay full and focused through the morning... with a breakfast of kellogg's® frosted mini-wheats® cereal; an excellent source of fiber that helps you avoid... the distraction of mid-morning hunger. no thanks, i'm good. so, what's the problem?
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ht if we don't act, netflix. dvds by mail-- plus some movies instantly medical bills will wipe out their savings. if we don't act, she'll be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. and he won't get the chemotherapy he needs.
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if we don't act, health care costs will rise 70%. and he'll have to cut benefits for his employees. but we can act. the president and congress have a plan to lower your costs and stop denials for pre-existing conditions. it's time to act. our next story takes us all the way to madagascar, an island nation off the african coast. an entire ecosystem has evolved there in isolation. including a primate found almost nowhere else on earth. they're called lemurs, and while they're adorable, they're also at risk. and man is very much at the heart of the problem. dan harris now with the latest installment of our series "into
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the wild". >> if there were a contest for cutest animal on the planet, the lemur would have to be a strong contender. this is play time. fighting, not real. that's good. oh. lemurs are primates that only exist here on the island nation of madagascar. they look scared. there are more than 50 flavors including the black and white lemur which looks like a skunk crossed with a panda crossed with a miniature pincher. why are they licking the trees? >> salt. >> they want salt. here's my favorite, the dancing lemur. so this is why they call them dancing lemurs? >> yes. >> they look ridiculous.
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they are mischievous little varmints. >> he likes my camera. >> back. >> this is almond's new assistant. we are in a lemur park which the way things are going, may soon be the only place you'll be able to find these animals. in the wild, lemurs are facing a genuine emergency right now. a recent military coup here in the long impoverished and unstable madagascar has created a power vacuum which has allowed heavily armed illegal loggers known as the timber mafia to launch an all-out assault on the lemur's natural habitat. lush forests that are now being raped for profit. we are told that if we want to see one of the most rare and
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beautiful lemu of all, an animal called the silkisiisive - silkisive acehs we need to travel into the set from what looks like jurassic park. two weeks ago it was too dangerous to visit. what we're going to see now is supposed to be the most beautiful lemur in the world? >> yeah, white like the snow. >> it is a long and steep and slippery hike which involved an unfortunate number of leeches. >> they get you. blood all over this. those are slugs in my socks. always pleasant first thing in the morning. bloodsuck bloodsuckers. along the way we see the silhouettes of lemurs leaping through the trees. >> there he is. very small.
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peering right at us. we get a closer look at the bamboo lemur and finally we spot this family of lemurs huddled together in an impossibly cute ball. but the silky sifakas are further. they're in the hardest place to reach i have ever been. let's go. finally, we see them. they look like cotton balls with tails. way up there. there are two lemurs. they're quite beautiful as promised. and they don't seem to mind at all that we're here. tually, there a are three, four. in fact, thehere are seven in ts family. they spend tirir d days eating, grooming, scampering and playing. we're pretty clclose to them. we're getting ry close. >> yeah. gettg verylose bebecause the
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animal i inot afraid of people. >> so they're not -- therere not many predators around here so they're not scared of us. >> exactctly. >> not many predatoror here's, t the mber mafia are not far and they are desoying the forest that these lemurs need to >> just on theop of the tree there. >> with us is niall o'connor, from one of the many conservation groups and on red alert. so this is an incredibly rare creature. >> yes. >> if they go away -- >> they're gone. we have to try to protect them. >> of course, it's not just the lemurs who are in danger. there are 11,000 species of animals and plants that only exist here in madagascar. in our brief time here, we see
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fantastic spiders, creeping red millipedes and mongooses that can be soon no place else. at night, a whole different cast of critters including these brilliantly camouflaged lizards. >> it is one of the unique places on earth and the species, they don't exist anywhere else. it is fantastic. >> it's at risk? >> it's at risk every day. >> here is wh the forests are being plundered. value rosewood trees, used to make expensive furniture often in china. while the lemurs are definitely cute, they are simply outgunned by the timber mafia whose diplomats and conservationists suspect of paying off government officials with bribes. there is real fear that this most rare and beautiful primate will disappear in the not too distant future.
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another victim of the most dangerous primate on earth. man. for "nightline," this is dan harris in madagascar. >> curious beasts and fragile land. thanks to dan harris. when we come back, miracle pills that promise to right every wrong. it's tonight's "sign of the times". (woman) i'm taking an antidepressant, but i think i might need more help. (announcer) approximately two out of three people being treated for depression still have depressiosymptoms. (man) i'm on an antidepressant, but i'm still not where i want to be with my symptoms. (announcer) if your antidepressant alone isn't enough, talk to your doctor. sis lingbibihtnene abilifyh@ doctor may conug abilifis fda-approved to treat depression in adults when added to an antidepressant. learn more about abilify. call your doctor if your depression worsens or if you have unusual changes in mood, behavior, or thoughts of suicide.
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antidepressants can increase these in children, teens and young adults. elderly dementia patients taking abilify have an increased risk of death or stroke. call your doctor if you have high fever, stiff muscles and confusion on abify, as these may be signs of a life-threatening reacti. or uncontrollable muscle movements, as these could become permanent. high blood sugar has been reported with abilify and medicines like it. in some cases, extreme high blood sugar can lead to coma or death. other risks include dizziness upon standing, seizures, impaired judgmentr motor skills, or trouble swallowing. adding abilify has made a difference for me. if an antidepressant alone isn't enough, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits talkof adding abilify.out find them, share them with mastercard's priceless picks app. download it now.
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pills are seemingly everywhere, drugs for everything from increasing your
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self-confidence to reducing your cholesterol. and with preriptions of almost $3 billion a year, the nation seems hooked and for jeremy hubbard that's "a sign of the times". >> this is your last chance. after this, there's no turning back. >> confused by the dazzling array of new pills on the market? imagine keanu reeves dilemma in "the matrix". >> you take the blue pill the story ends and you wake up in your bed and believe what you want to believe. you take the red pill, you stay in wonderland. >> decisions, decisions. even the president is trying to figure it out. >> in this situation, the blue pill works better than the red pill, and it turns out the blue pill is half as expensive as the red pill. >> just this week came word of what could be other miracle pill, an obesity drug called
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contray. it helped people lose 5% of their weight after a year, but wait, let's do the math. >> 5% weight loss i'm very happy about that. however, if you have a 200 pound person that's ten pounds lost in 13 months and that that's three quarters of a pound per month. >> that's it? that's enough for wall street. the stock shot up more than 26% monday. they hoped to put the pills on the market next year and there will be plenty of buyers in a country that loves its pills like we do. just last year prescription sales in the u.s. jumped to a not just prescriptions.and it's etorpt get the -- don' foetrg the over the cutter counter pills that give u yoa tan or make you start like lisa simpson. >> if you don't start smiling you'll get a kiss. >> if i take this kiss i will
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grow a larger -- well, you know. >> if you haven't tried this you aren't getting the most importance its of your love life. >> there's a miracle cure that will cure impotence, give you a bigger bust or smaller thighs, make you go to sleep or stay awake. oh, yes, jesse from "saved by the bell". >> i have to think! >> you can't sing tonight. >> yes, i can! i'm so excited! >> i think everybody is looking for the magic bullet, the snake oil. the feel-good stuff. you know, i can get it all done and i don't have to work for it. >> even when we don't know the long-term -- -- effects we'll swallow it. >> now in 2009 it's how quick can i lose it, what can i take, i want the weight off now and i want my life back. but it simply doesn't happen like that. and a lot of people still want that magic bullet.
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>> who knows, maybe that new obesity drug will be the miracle drug we have been waiting for. until then, there are plenty of other options and scientists are working on a cure for forgetfulness. maybe we can take it to remember which miracle pills to take. >> i think i'll stick with an apple day. thanks to jeremy hubbard. when we come back, time for tonight's "closing argument." ta
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